Politicians and pundits alike were shocked by the outburst of Representative Joe Wilson, (R-South Carolina) during President Obama’s speech the other day, but if they were caught off guard by his calling the President a liar, they have been even more amazed by the campaign contributions that have rolled into his campaign coffers as a result.
Originally considered a faux pas by his colleagues on both sides of the aisle, the unexpected financial effect of Representative Wilson’s brush with tourette syndrome has earned it a second look. As campaign contributions from his small, lower-middle class district top one million dollars, members of Congress are considering shifting to a campaign strategy they would never have considered just a week before. From the prominent to the obscure, elected representatives are meeting with their campaign managers and discussing the unheard-of possibility that occasional truth-telling, under carefully controlled circumstances, might actually work to their benefit.
Legendary democratic strategist James Carville, on his way to his crypt before dawn today, acknowledged at least the slim possibility that the truth might actually work in some cases. “Yeah, well, thas a poss bility, ahthough, in ah ‘sperience, ah candidates haven’t ‘zacly represented constit encies that we considered suscep able to that sort of puh suasion.”
Now many have come to reevaluate what they had previously considered the Vice President’s Achilles heel – his frequent tendency to blurt out statements that were disastrously off-topic, and even more disturbingly, true. In the light of Joe Wilson’s truth strategy, should we question whether Joe Biden is more Machiavelli than Rain Man? Could his truth-blurting be, not a series of entertaining gaffs, but instead, a cleverly laid plot to ingratiate himself with the electorate while the President sinks lower and lower in the polls? The prescience required for such a master plan boggles the mind, but there it is: We must consider the possibility that the Vice President, hiding behind a façade of vacuity, concealed beneath a camouflage of hair plugs, recognized before anyone, a growing truth-bias among the electorate, and not only recognized it, but put into action a subtle program to benefit from it by gradually, imperceptibly, insinuating himself into the growing undercurrent of the truth counterculture.
Now that the cat’s out of the bag, legislators are seeking to understand this newest voting demographic. A survey of the most prominent Washington-area consultants who specialize in public opinion data shows that prior to last week, the vast majority of them were concentrating their efforts on finding the most palatable way to present healthcare reform for illegal immigrants. Since Representative Wilson’s truth outbreak, however, each of them has shifted their attention to identifying the truth demographic, and finding the best ways to secure its loyalty for their clients.
But the Truth Strategy is not for everyone. While Representative Barney Frank’s (D-Massachusetts) early numbers show some success for his first forays into Truth (He has begun experimenting on focus groups by interrupting his own speeches with cries of “Hideouth!, Tweacherouth,” and “Dethpicabew!”) some legislators are finding that they are physically incapable of using Truth, even in its simplest forms.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D-California) for one, has discovered what appears to be an allergic reaction to Truth. In recent sessions with her consultants, she slipped into anaphylactic shock and narrowly avoided assuming a permanent vegetative state when, for test purposes, she tried to say, “The stimulus package may not have been entirely successful.”
“It was awful,” said an eyewitness. “Her face just kind of froze, and she sat there, immobile.”
A colleague said, “At first we just thought it was another botox treatment, but then we realized she wasn’t breathing. It took nearly 20 minutes to find someone to administer CPR.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) acknowledges a similar affliction, although his reaction seemed to be less extreme. When he tried to say, “Government is sometimes not as efficient as the free market,” he suffered a severe asthma attack, which required administration of a corticosteroid inhaler from the Congressional Free Medical Clinic. Although he turned a lovely shade of blue, the senator said that the Truth experiment was not something he was willing to repeat in the future. “Much too dangerous,” he cautioned. “In fact,” he said, suddenly looking better than he had all day, “Truth is so dangerous that in the near future I will be proposing legislation to regulate it.”
Other members of Congress have been less precipitous in their attempts to benefit from Truth, and so sustained reactions that were much less severe. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) developed a case of hives when he whispered, “The Founding Fathers meant what they said and said what they meant,” while Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) suffered a nose bleed.
While these and many other legislators were dismayed to discover their inability to profit from the Truth Strategy, they have, at least, discovered a silver lining in their dark cloud. Senator Olympia Snowe, (R-Maine) proudly waved her newly-minted handicapped parking placard. “This represents a major blow against the injustices suffered by the less-enabled,” she said, as she spoke in glowing terms of the government benefits that would now be extended to truth-impaired members of Congress.